After the Shipley girls’ basketball team beat the Academy of Notre Dame in the PAISAA championship game last February, point guard Lauren Ross took the game ball home.
But the basketball didn’t get stored away in a trophy case for Ross’ family and friends to admire. She practiced with the ball throughout the summer in preparation for her senior season.
Ross, who finished her junior season with 999 career points, said she had unfinished business with the ball from the state championship game. So, in the Gators’ first game of this season, against Lawrenceville on Nov. 30, Ross tied up the loose ends. She drilled her first field-goal attempt against Lawrenceville to become the 11th girl in Shipley history to score 1,000 career points.
And she did it with the same ball the Gators used in last season’s state-championship victory.
“That 999 ball she had this summer was just poking her every day,” Shipley coach Sean Costello said. “She made a point of wanting to use that ball for the [first] game [this season] because she felt like it should have been in the other game.”
Ross went on to finish the 73-32 rout of Lawrenceville with 16 points, six rebounds, five steals, and three assists. On Tuesday, she recorded 10 points, seven rebounds and six assists in Shipley’s 54-43 win over Westtown. Ross is averaging 11.2 points, 5.4 rebounds, 4.5 assists, and 2.6 steals for the Gators, who are 11-2 overall and 2-0 in the Friends League.
She is set to continue her basketball career at St. Joseph’s University next season. That was where her father, Monte Ross, coached as a men’s assistant for 10 seasons before leaving in 2006 to become the head coach at Delaware.
Now, the ball that Ross had stashed since February -- decorated with Shipley’s school colors, her name and the date when she recorded her 1,000th point -- is on display at the school. Once the season is over, Ross hopes to get it back.
"It’s bittersweet leaving that ball, but I’ll be OK,” Ross said. “Normally, I’m not nervous before games. But that was a crazy moment for me. And then as soon as I scored I was like, ‘Wow, OK. I did it. Now, I can go back to playing basketball again.' ”
Ross said the top two schools in her recruiting process were St. Joe’s and Harvard. Ross, who was on St. Joe’s campus as a newborn, chose that university because it felt like a second home, she said.
As a child, Ross and her brother Justin, who plays basketball at Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina, shot around at St. Joe’s practices while her father was an assistant under head coach Phil Martelli.
“She got a good sense of the family atmosphere at St. Joe’s and the way that people went about their business,” said Monte Ross, who played high school basketball at Bodine in Philadelphia. “That really made her take a liking to the school.”
In two of Ross’ three seasons at Shipley, she has helped the team win state championships.
But before she makes the jump to play for coach Cindy Griffin on Hawk Hill, Ross wants to bring Shipley a Friends Schools League championship. The Gators haven’t claimed the title since 2014.